Dr. Marc Lamont Hill was presented with the award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article by actress Laverne Cox and writer and filmmaker Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler for Hill's Ebony.com piece "Why Aren't We Fighting for CeCe McDonald?" at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco on Saturday night. During his moving acceptance speech, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill led the audience in a chant to "Free CeCe."
"No issue has been more important to me, none has been more special to me than writing about CeCe McDonald," Dr. Hill said. "This speaks to the many, many battles we have in front of us as an LGBT community, as an ally community, as a community of people who are struggling to create a world that is more fair, more just, more democratic and ultimately just more free. We have so much work to do and I hope that the work that we all do tonight and the work that we do when we leave here will continue to make the world a little bit better and a little bit safer."
In June 2011, while walking down the street, CeCe McDonald and her friends were accosted in a transphobic and racist attack. After suffering lacerations to her face, CeCe tried to defend herself and CeCe’s attacker later died from the altercation. On June 4, 2012, CeCe was sentenced to 41 months in prison. GLAAD joined several other organizations in the campaign to support CeCe.
Dr. Hill's Ebony.com article "Why Aren't We Fighting for CeCe McDonald?" took a look at how the justice system often fails transgender people, particularly trans women of color who are "nearly twice as vulnerable to violence as their white counterparts."
After Dr. Marc Lamont HIll's acceptance speech, Laverne Cox returned to the podium to discuss the importance of highlighting CeCe McDonald's story: "I am still furious, I'm angry that CeCe is in prison simply for defending herself, but I am so moved by her courage and leadership even from behind bars. Let us not forget CeCe McDonald and all the survivors, all our LGBT survivors of all races and economic backgrounds. I hope all of us will work with GLAAD and support their work to push for accurate news coverage of the trans community and women like CeCe."
Laverne Cox most recently starred in the independent film Musical Chairs about the world of competitive ballroom dancing, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. She produced and hosted the reality series TRANSform Me in which Cox, along with other out transgender women, Nina Poon and Jamie Clayton, helped women find their own inner (and outer) beauty. She also participated in the on-going Trans People Speak video campaign. In June she'll star in the new series, Orange is the New Black, premiering on Netflix.
Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler is a filmmaker and blogger at blac(k)ademic.com, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. His film STILL BLACK: A Portrait of Black Transmen won Audience Choice Best Documentary at the 2009 Reelout Film Festival and the Isaac Julien Experimental Award at the 2008 Queer Black Cinema festival.
On stage Dr. Ziegler noted that both he and Laverne Cox were named to the inaugural Trans 100 list launched by We Happy Trans and This Is H.O.W., an overview of the breadth and diversity of work being done in, by and for the transgender community across the United States. The first effort of its kind, the list intends to shift the coverage of trans issues by focusing on the positive work being accomplished, and providing visibility to those typically underrepresented. GLAAD is a proud sponsor of the Trans 100.
Learn more about how you can support CeCe McDonald with the CeCe Support Committee.